Following a scientific conference held in May at St Pete Beach near the city of Tampa in the middle of Florida, we planned a one-week road trip to explore the south of Florida, from Miami to the Everglades, to the Keys.
As we were six to travel together, we mostly opted for Airbnb accommodations, but we also spent a few nights in nice resorts.
I enjoyed visiting Miami and the surrounding areas. It is a lively city with lots of different atmospheres. Another good thing is that despite being the sixth most densely populated city in the US (1), we did not feel overwhelmed at all as the atmosphere was pretty chilled.
The Wynwood district
Street art and art exhibitions are abundant in this part of Miami City. This website gathers information about art exhibitions, cultural events, bars and restaurants that you can find in Wynwood district: https://wynwoodmiami.com/.
Little Havana District
Close to Miami Downtown, Little Havana is full of Cuban and Latinamerican vibes! Leaving their country because of the regime of Castro, lots of Cubans settled in this part of the town, giving it its name. People from other Hispanic countries later joined this area, making it a vibrant place that celebrates the history, cultures, and habits of its residents.
To get an idea of the neighbourhood atmosphere, walk along the famous Calle Ocho, have a glimpse at the Maximo Gomez Park where you’ll find people playing dominos. Appreciate Cuban food in one of the many restaurants, and don’t leave without having a drink at the Ball & Chain Bar to enjoy live music!
If you don’t feel like walking or driving, you can ride the entire Metromover, which is entirely free (2). You’ll see the Downtown part of Miami with its huge skyscrapers!
Art Deco District (Miami Beach)
Art Deco houses with their pastel facades are to be seen near and on Ocean Drive. Lots of pubs, bars, and clubs very close to the oceanfront make this district very party-oriented.
We spent a late afternoon at a terrace on Ocean Drive, and it was an experience! Big honking cars, bathing suit as the dress code, colourful cocktails, loud music, smiling people all around.
Cycling along the seafront
If you made it to Miami Beach, the small island in front of Miami and where you’ll find Ocean Drive and the Art Deco district, then you should go for a short bike tour! You can very easily rent a bike from the city bike station located near Ocean Drive.
After having lunch at the restaurant Fratelli La Bufala (Miami Beach), we cycled along Ocean Drive and up to Atlantic Heights. You get to go between the beach and the many hotel gardens and to see the famous lifeguards towers.
The Everglades is a national park where you can observe alligators. It is located approximately 1.5 hours away from Downtown Miami, depending on traffic.
The Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center is open daily until 5 p.m. (entrance fee = 30$ per vehicle), 365 days a year (3).
Depending on the season you visit, you’ll get to see different species. During our visit, we met colourful grasshoppers, lots of birds among which a great blue heron swallowing a fish in less than 20 seconds, and some black vulture, some specimen of the American alligator, some cute manatees bathing in the small harbour.
The Keys are a complex of several islands at the tip of Florida, linked by several big bridges. There are lots of beaches and coconut trees along the road from Miami.
We headed to Key West, the last (4-hour drive from Miami) but loveliest of the islands and spent the night on a sailing boat. The touristic island is beautiful to explore with small wooden houses and pretty gardens.